Seeking greater personal safety, especially in crowded public spaces, makes sense. California residents know that their state has extra restrictions on many items, so is it illegal to wear a bulletproof vest? While some laws are permissive in CA, others have greater restrictions. Naturally, this can get confusing. However, you shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to learn the truth. Though it’s always wise to check your county and city laws, the overall state doesn’t have any vests restrictions. Since these are uncertain times, and anyone can end up in a bad situation, better preparedness is necessary. I’ll walk you through how and why to get a bulletproof vest. Plus, I will help you find the right fit and explain the uses and limitations so you can walk confidently in those huge crowds. No one should have to worry about dying just because they left the house.
Is it illegal to wear a bulletproof vest in California? It is not illegal to wear a bulletproof vest in California. Any US citizen who is a legal adult and not a convicted felon can buy and wear a BV in public. Although there are some exceptions, such as government buildings, you’re generally allowed to strap on your protective vest in most places.
Is It Illegal to Wear Bulletproof Vests in California
You don’t need to worry about your bulletproof vest being illegal in California. It is not. Despite the restriction on selling body armor to felons, other adults are welcome to buy and use BV and BA as they please. In fact, most states have no specific laws on body armor use beyond federal restrictions.
You can thank your second amendment rights for the freedom to wear bulletproof vests. “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” While that doesn’t specifically include protecting your body against bullets, it makes sense to include protections other than firing back. Being ‘well regulated’ is more than just knowing how to aim and fire when there’s an attack.
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Only eight states have additional body armor laws, of which California is one. However, none of these states prohibit bulletproof vests. Instead, they seek to restrict the use or sale where criminals are concerned. Moreover, the change in legislation is very recent for CA and not yet in effect. I’ll explain how that works below.
Why Is It Illegal for Felons to Own Body Armor
Just as a convicted felons cannot vote, they often cannot own body armor. This is especially true for violent felons. It seems likely that a person who is predisposed to criminal activity cannot have protective armor because it might stop police from hindering future attempts at crime. Hence, putting bulletproof vests on dangerous felons doesn’t make much sense.
Sensibly, there are exceptions to these laws. For example, Bay Area Business Attorney Peter Stanwick points out that, “California law with respect to felons and bulletproof vests is really quite reasoned and reasonable. Penal Code 31360(a) makes it illegal for one convicted of a violent felony to own a bulletproof vest. Further 31360(b) allows those who are subject to this restriction to apply to local police for an exemption upon the demonstration that their work, livelihood, or safety warrants the use of a protective vest.”
As you can clearly see, the prohibition isn’t total. Anyone with a legitimate need for body armor can likely obtain it and use it for work. However, convicted felons may need to show good reason for their purchase. When it comes to public safety, this seems like a good and commonsensical option.
Few, if any, law-abiding citizens would have an issue with such a policy. That said, some acts have been introduced to congress that may restrict body armor further in the future.
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Bulletproof Vests & Future Crimes in California
Regardless of whether you are already a convicted felon, California offers additional legal penalties for wearing a bulletproof vest if you are committing a crime. Intriguingly, this is a new addendum. Furthermore, it does not go into effect until January 1, 2022.
Specifically, the California Code, Penal Code – PEN § 12022.2 adds jail time for this offense. While many states lack these additional laws, they are good prohibitive measures. Deterring crime and making it less desirable is always a smart move. Anyone attempting or committing a crime in body armor can anticipate adding two to five years of automatic jail time to their sentence.
Bulletproof Vest Ratings Explained
Before you buy a bulletproof vest to wear in California, it is vital to understand how they work. The armor ratings come from The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), which sets and tests the ballistic protection standards. The NIJ is the research, development, and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). This agency determines how effective your body armor is. Of course, that also depends on wearing it correctly.
Without the scrupulous testing from the NIJ, wearing a bulletproof vest would be very hit and miss. Since this is one area where guessing at unregulated standards is the worst possible plan, it’s crucial to have a uniform requirement. Below is an explanation of how the five levels of protection work and their limitations.
Body Armor Ratings
Two important factors determine the ballistic protection of body armor. The first and most obvious is how it holds up to being shot. Body armor is rated based on what type and speed of bullet it can stop without being penetrated.
Secondly, BA is rated based on the wearer. How much impact can your armor take without blunt trauma to your body? Even without bullet penetration, too much force transferred into your body will still bruise, break bones, or have damaged organs. Thus, body armor cannot stop ‘everything.’
For example, even if you were covered head to toe in the highest possible civilian body armor, a bomb could injure or kill you. This is because the impact pressure would throw the armor into your body. Resultantly, you would take damage. Furthermore, you’d likely also be thrown through the air if the blast was nearby.
The Five Levels Of Body Armor
- IIA- The lowest level of body armor does not protect against rifles. However, it can stop short barrel handguns firing 9mm or .40SW ammo.
- II- Similar to level IIA, this armor will not stop a rifle. Still, it can save you from short barrel handguns packing .357 Magnum or 9MM rounds.
- IIIA- An IIIA armor stops longer barreled handguns with .357 SIG and .44 Magnum rounds. Sadly, it will not stop a rifle.
- III- This type of body armor can stop 7.62 mm lead-core rifle ammo.
- IV- Hopefully, you never need to stop .30cal armor-piercing rifle ammunition, but if you do, this vest is your best chance at survival.
Please keep in mind that no armor is perfect. It is essential to keep your plates in good condition. Moreover, a good fit is the only way to make sure you have coverage. Even so, a lucky shot in an unprotected area may still kill you. Bulletproof vests increase your survival odds substantially, but nothing can guarantee it.
Bulletproof Vests Can Also Stop Knives
Usually, when you buy a bulletproof vest, you are concerned about bullets. However, it’s worth knowing that they can also stop knives. The ceramic plates inside a bulletproof vest can turn most blades and protect against this type of attack.
Unfortunately, a knife can damage the vest, plate cover, and plate. It is vital to maintain and regularly inspect your body armor for damage. Doing this will help save your life since flaws and damage can allow bullets to pass through your vest more easily. Still, it’s nice to know that your armor does double duty.
I recommend The BulletSafe Bulletproof Vest. These vests have been around since 2013 but recently got an upgraded design. Not only will these outstanding bulletproof vests stop knives and ballistics, but they are upgradeable with additional plates from their website. You can raise the protection level to IV if you choose or wear the basic model if rifles aren’t a big concern in your area. To find out more, click here.
Choosing the right bulletproof vest is essential. Whether you live in California or any other area, a badly fitting vest won’t stop bullets the same as one that has full coverage. Although no vest is perfect, it can often mean the difference between life and death in an emergency.
Take the time to measure your body before you order body armor. It’s most important to find a vest that fits around your waist and stomach area. While the rest is fairly adjustable, you need to make sure you are covered completely. Otherwise, a stray bullet can pass through gaps and injure you. Especially in the stomach area, a bullet is a painful and slow way to die.
Always double-check the weight of your vest since it can be surprisingly heavy. Finally, take the time to train and wear your vest regularly so you can move in it when the need arises.